Artists Who Overcome the Odds

Life behind the stage

When a musician is on stage in front of thousands of people, it’s hard to imagine that their behind-the-scenes life could be anything but perfect. Despite battling health issues, these 8 artists overcome the odds and have successful careers in music.

Thom Green, drummer for Alt J, has a rare disease called Alport Syndrome that effects hearing and kidneys. He is 80 percent deaf and in 2008 had a kidney transplant.


Before Pearl Jam was ever a band Mike McCready was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. For six months he was too depressed to pick up his guitar. Luckily he finally did because two years later, Pearl Jam was formed.


Multiple Sclerosis affects the central nervous syndrome and causes a wide range of problems including muscle control and strength which makes it amazing that a drummer can still perform with it. Aaron Solowoniuk from Billy Talent has MS and has become an advocate and helped raise lots of money towards a cure over the past decade. “This is How it Goes” was inspired by his struggle.


Ryan Adams had to take a couple years off from touring in 2009 because he had Meniere’s disease that started with extreme Tinnitus. It sounded like the roaring of a jet engine inside his ears at all times.


Bono isn’t trying to be the world’s coolest dude by always wearing sunglasses, he’s actually had glaucoma for the past 20 years. He says it’s so bad that if someone takes his picture he will see the flash for the rest of the day.


Michael Anglekos of Passion Pit has had to cancel shows to seek treatment of his bi-polar disorder. He is an advocate for getting treatment and was even part of the #StrongerThanStigma campaign this year.


Neil Young made his album Harvest Moon because he was suffering from Tinnitus which is something many musicians have come down with. It’s often caused by noise-based hearing damage and is distinguished by a constant ringing in your ears just like after you go to a really loud concert.


Jeff Tweedy has had Chronic Migraine Disorder since he was a kid and says he has never missed a show but has played really horrible shows and had to cut some short because of them.